Despite the fact that many communities found across the Great South Bay are seasonal, there are social spots and restaurants in the area which have lasted decades. But come this summer, there will be new offerings brewing on Fire Island.
Business owners in the area are anticipating a comeback year following the impact of the pandemic. New eateries are slated to open, a pair of hotels are upgrading and the Fire Island Ferry is even switching up its offerings.
"It's still a scary environment out there, but operators like myself now are more prepared than last year," says Jon Randazzo, who believes "this summer season will be better." Randazzo is behind several venues located in Ocean Beach, namely The Landing at Ocean Beach, Castaway Bar & Grill, The Baywalk Cafe, Beacheria, Scoops and Beaches & Cream — yet by the time the summer rush begins, he’ll be tacking on a new eatery called Taco Beach, a Mexican restaurant that will also offer a bar component.
Here's what else is new or upgraded for the summer season on Fire Island:
The owners of The Brixton restaurant and bar in Babylon, Brad Wilson and Frank Bragaglia, have taken over the digs formerly known as Surf's Out (which announced its closure in March after 12 years). Dive will open in its place, offering what they describe as "an eclectic menu with a '70s SoCal vibe." Patrons can look forward to craft cocktails and drinks with summertime personality, and Wilson and Bragaglia confirm they are lining up musicians to play there this season.
FIRE ISLAND BOATEL GETS AN UPGRADE
Across the sidewalk from Dive, the Fire Island Boatel resort (110 E. Lighthouse Walk; 833-342-6283, fireislandboatel.com) is under new management and has been renovated. Equipped with a private bay beach, it’s also only a few blocks from the ocean and the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse is only a walkable mile away. Owner Dwayne Diesu stresses he is looking to provide a relaxed atmosphere aimed at families and couples, with rooms rates varying between $250-$525 per night. As of June, rentals are Friday-to-Friday weeklies only; rates vary depending on holidays. The rooms all feature kitchens, include the use of beach chairs and beach towels, and have front decks that face the bay.
THE ICE PALACE RESORT ARRIVES
The Ice Palace, the event space attached to the Grove Hotel, has been for many people the true identifier of the venue, and management has decided this year to make it official. The property is being rebranded as the Ice Palace Resort (1 Ocean Walk, Cherry Grove; 631-597-6600, grovehotel.com). Updates are still being made to its bar area, but it’s already open for reservations and daily drag entertainment is already slated for the entire season, according to general manager Robert Lassègue.
AIRSTREAM IN OCEAN BAY
After opening its doors last summer, the Fire Island Beach Hotel (25 Cayuga Walk, Ocean Bay Park; 631-583-8000, thefibh.com) is looking to build on its social side during its sophomore season. The weekend poolside DJs will be returning and a new Airstream trailer has made its debut in its picnic area, says owner George Breres. Coffee and light breakfast will be served from the trailer in the morning, then cocktails and to-go foods later in the day. It will also offer carryout food to take to the beach. A satellite bar is also being added to the picnic area for late-night hangouts — and you don’t need to be a hotel guest to enjoy any of this. It’s open to the general public, so people on the beach are free to roll up and grab some grub.
USE UBER FOR YOUR FERRY RIDE
For most, a ferry is the only way to cross the Great South Bay and while the vessels are running, all who would like to board must wear masks, just like in 2020. Customers are also asked to social distance when possible. This summer, Fire Island Ferries has teamed up with Uber to make your ride just a tad easier. You can now purchase your ferry ticket and reserve your spot through the Uber app, without having to wait on any in-person lines.
Check the schedule for the latest ferries from Bay Shore (99 Maple Ave.; 631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com), Sayville (41 River Road, Sayville; 631-589-0810, sayvilleferry.com) and Patchogue (80 Brightwood St.; 631-475-1665, davisparkferry.com).